The amount of recycling unloaded on Wellington's kerbsides has been like "Christmas on steroids" after no collections during lockdown and most of Covid-19 alert level 3.

A whopping 120 tonnes of recycling was collected yesterday alone, according to Wellington City Council figures.

Yesterday 68 tonnes of glass was collected, nearing triple that of normal levels.

All of that glass will actually be recycled as it is able to be sent to Auckland for processing without any physical contact with staff.

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But the same cannot be said for mixed recycling after 52 tonnes of it was collected yesterday, about double that of what contractors would usually pick up.

About 25 tonnes of that has ended up at the landfill so the processing plant in Seaview doesn't get overwhelmed.

While collectors work through a backlog of stockpiled cans, cardboard and plastic, about half of what is being collected is ending up at the landfill every day.

Collections have been running from 6am to 7pm to keep up with demand, but even then, some streets have been missed and had to wait.

The Wellington region's recycling sorting facility opened again at alert level 2. Photo / WCC.
The Wellington region's recycling sorting facility opened again at alert level 2. Photo / WCC.

That's because the processing plant and the landfill close at 5pm, so when trucks are filled to the brim after that time, drivers have to call it a day.

The recycling is kept in the trucks overnight and disposed of the following morning.

Yesterday about 20 trucks were on the roads picking up recycling, doing three loads each.

Wellington City Council waste operations manager Emily Taylor-Hall said the levels of recycling yesterday were "phenomenal".

"We said to people please don't put out everything in one go, but clearly that message didn't get through yesterday.

"It would be fair to say it's been pretty busy."

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Recycling is being taken to the landfill so the processing plant does not become overwhelmed. Photo / WCC.
Recycling is being taken to the landfill so the processing plant does not become overwhelmed. Photo / WCC.

She said one of the collectors described the situation as being like "Christmas on steroids".

While yesterday was a record, the rest of the first week of collections has been at least one and a half times the level of recycling experienced at Christmas time.

But Taylor-Hall said collectors were in good spirits and happy to be back at work.

"There has been no easing into it, it's been very much hit the ground running from day one.

"I'm sure at the end of this week there will be some very tired people who can hopefully have a relaxing weekend."

Taylor-Hall expected the levels to calm down by next week after a full fortnight cycle of collections.